Norse Mythology In The Lord Of The Rings: Odin, Morrigan And Their Messengers

1879 words - 8 pages

Stories often take inspiration from multiple styles of writings, including classical texts from modern literature. This is especially important when creating a fictional culture or race to create a sense of believability and help the readers visualize how the setting and characters will appear in their minds. Stories may sometimes place an influence on how other character are represented in the author's writing. One excellent example that takes use of ancient stories to create differentiating cultures is The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. His novel shows a large number of examples of inspiration taken from mythological tales and legends. He incorporates his interest such Celtic and Nordic mythology through characters who reflect figures such as Odin, the god and ruler of Asgard. The god is known for being associated with war, battle, victory, death, wisdom, magic, poetry, prophecy and the hunt. While Tolkien may have other sources of influence from other writings, his use of Norse and Celtic mythology can be seen in a number of ways; characters that heavily parallel with the god Odin as well as his ravens given a part of influence the story.

During the war of the ring Saruman used crebains, large black birds relatively a counterpart of real life crows and ravens, as spies. A flock of Crebain from Dunland first appeared when the Fellowship were traveling in Hollin and hid from them to avoid detection. Since they are seen working for Saruman, black birds are initially though as a group of creatures associated with evil and have some level of intelligence. Similarly with Odin, the Norse god has two ravens–one named Huginn and the other Muginn to serve as messengers and bring him information. One example of ravens being perceived as dark, evil creatures is suggested in the chapter “A Knife in the Dark” when Strider warns the Hobbits, “Indeed, there are many birds and beasts in this country that could see us, as we stand here, from that hill-top. Not all the birds are to be trusted, and there are other spies more evil than they are here” (Tolkien 183). Consequently Sam “looked up into the pale sky, fearing to see hawks or eagles hovering over them with bright unfriendly eyes” (Tolkien 184). Though The Hobbit showed a second depiction of crows and ravens; they are viewed as friendly, helpful and proven as trustworthy animals to the protagonists such as Roäc the raven. On some occasions they spoke with the dwarves and Bilbo without presenting a potential threat to them. However, Gandalf and Aragorn still carry their suspicions of birds and beasts whenever they are traveling across Middle Earth. Since ravens and crows are actually seen to play a good and evil role through the story due to their ability to collect information and bring news to their allies, it opens to the possibility they are being unknowingly exploited when used for evil purposes. Birds who are allied with dwarves further suggest that the crebains serving...

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